Ski event raises money for diabetes
By Josh O'Gorman
STAFF WRITER | February 25,2013
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Katherine Rockwell speeds through gates at Pico Mountain during the 3rd annual Downhill for Diabetes event on Sunday.
KILLINGTON — If only charitable giving could always be this much fun.
About 65 skiers and boarders helped raise $19,200 during the third annual Downhill for Diabetes on Sunday at Pico Mountain. The locally grown event was created by Pawlet resident Lynn Pratt, who sprang into action after her 7-year-old daughter Ashley Pratt was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.
“It was a way of coping with her having the disease. We live in Vermont, so we thought instead of having a walk we should have a ski,” said Pratt as she manned a table in the base lodge with her husband Brad Pratt, selling T-shirts, hats, tote bags and fleece ear warmers.
In between races, visitors were also treated to sugar-free treats from American Diabetes Wholesale, sugar-free ice cream from Ben & Jerry's, and bread from Rupert Rising Breads.
After Ashley received her diagnosis in October 2010, Lynn wasted no time in her response, first founding the nonprofit Donations for Diabetes and organizing the first downhill event in February 2011. The now-annual tradition was a success from straight out of the starting gate, raising $8,500 its first year and $14,500 its second year.
All proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which since 1970 has awarded more than $1.7 billion for research. According to the American Diabetes Foundation, about one in 400 children and adolescents has diabetes. About 15,000 children are diagnosed with diabetes annually, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
One of the newly diagnosed is Lauren Sampson, 10, of Rutland, who learned she has Type I diabetes in September. Despite not being skiers or boarders, Lauren and her family — parents Steve and Susan Sampson and sister Elizabeth Sampson — came out to offer their support and meet other families in their situation.
“We were given Lynn's name from our doctor and we wanted to support the cause,” said Susan Sampson, whose brother also has Type I diabetes. “She (Lauren) is on an insulin pump and still does all the things she always has.”
“I still play basketball,” Lauren said.
Lynn Pratt enthusiastically thanked Pico Mountain, who donated discounted and free lift tickets to participants who had solicited donations. She also thanked her event's major donors: General Electric, RLA Insurance Intermediaries, Allen Pools & Spas, Rutland Regional Medical Center, American Diabetes Wholesale, and Vermont Renewable Fuels.
Participants took home around $1,200 in raffle prizes, but the grand prize — a two-night stay at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden — is still up for grabs and will be until March 30. Tickets are on sale at www.donationsfordiabetes.org.
As she ate a piece of bread, Ashley Pratt made plans for the afternoon, the same kind of plans as any other 7-year-olds at Pico.
“I haven't been out there today but I'm going to go out later and I'm going to be in the race,” she said smiling.